MTSU ends UT's season, 71-64

Tennessee looks on as MTSU closes out a 71-64 win during the second half of the NIT second-round game at Thompson-Boling Arena Monday, March 19, 2012.  MTSU defeated Tennessee 71-64 to end their season.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2012

Tennessee looks on as MTSU closes out a 71-64 win during the second half of the NIT second-round game at Thompson-Boling Arena Monday, March 19, 2012. MTSU defeated Tennessee 71-64 to end their season. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Cuonzo Martin on loss to MTSU at NIT

The Tennessee players walked slowly off The Summitt court on Monday night wearing looks of disbelief and anguish.

After a season of proving so many people wrong, the Vols appeared helpless to stop Middle Tennessee State from making all the right plays over the final six minutes.

The Blue Raiders added a big, orange jewel to a season already filled with riches and records, defeating Tennessee 71-64 in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament on Monday night before a raucous crowd of 12,038 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

MTSU's crowning moment came at the six-minute mark when, trailing by eight, the Blue Raiders found another gear and closed the game on a 15-0 run to advance to play at home Wednesday against Minnesota.

The Vols finished the season 19-15, struggling as much to explain what happened in the closing minutes as they did shooting the ball (22 of 58 from the floor, 1-for-13 beyond the 3-point line) against MTSU.

"I wish I knew," UT point guard Trae Golden said. "We didn't capitalize from the free-throw line, we didn't defend well down the stretch; there's a lot of things we could have done better."

Second-team All-SEC forward Jeronne Maymon, who didn't play in the NIT opener last Tuesday on account of a bruised knee, came off the bench to lead UT with 17 points and seven rebounds.

Freshman Jarnell Stokes had 15 points and Golden added 14.

"I thought our guys did a good job from where we started to the end; I saw progress," said first-year UT coach Cuonzo Martin, whose team earned the No. 2 seed in the SEC tournament after replacing four starters and being picked to finish 11th at the preseason Media Day in October.

"We just fell short, (and) we were out of our consistent flow offensively," he said. "I think we just lost to a good team."

Sun Belt Conference regular-season champion MTSU, which by improving to 27-6 added to its school-record number of victories, held the Vols to 0-for-9 shooting from the floor after Jordan McRae's drive gave UT a 64-56 lead with 7:11 left and brought the crowd to its feet in anticipation of what would have been a ninth-straight home-court win.

The Blue Raiders got it done off the dribble and at the free-throw line in the clutch.

MTSU point guard Bruce Massey eclipsed his previous career-high of 14 points by scoring eight of his 20 points over the final six minutes, and the Blue Raiders hit nine of 10 free throws over that span.

Massey, who also pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds, blocked a Golden shot with 1:06 left and the Blue Raiders up 65-64. Massey followed with a jumper at the other end of the floor with 37.5 seconds left to extend the lead before Skylar McBee missed his attempt to tie the game with a 3-pointer with 26 seconds left.

MTSU, which entered the game having lost nine straight to UT since beating the Vols 85-80 in the teams' first meeting in the 1988 NIT in Murfreesboro, iced the game by going 4-for-4 from the line over the final 17.2 seconds.

"It's obviously tough; you never want to go out in a losing effort," UT fifth-year senior Cameron Tatum said dejectedly. "It's all about growing up. It's all about handling adversity, trying to learn from it, and becoming a better man and a better person."

The Vols handled adversity early in the game, rallying from a 12-point deficit to cut the Blue Raiders' lead to 36-34 at halftime.

Moments after Tatum hit UT's first and only 3-pointer of the game on the Vols' first possession of the second half, Maymon followed with a bucket inside to give Tennessee its first lead (39-38) since starting out 2-0.

The Vols appeared to be in good shape; Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year LaRon Dendy was saddled with three fouls and was never much of a factor en route to a 10-point, nine-rebound effort.

A Stokes dunk at the 14:38 mark sparked an 11-3 run that gave UT a 56-48 lead and the ball after MTSU coach Kermit Davis was whistled for a technical with 11:09 left.

The Vols were in control when McRae scored in transition after Tatum made an acrobatic save of a ball going out of bounds at the other end.

It proved to be the final highlight of the season for UT.

Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32

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Comments » 196

One_in_West_Knox writes:

With a stunned look on my face:

WAH HAHPPENED in the final 7:13??????????

wigmeister writes:

They went back to bricks tonight!

KFDLaw writes:

Disappointing loss ending a disappointing season. As Yogi would say, "Deja Vu all over again."

born2ride writes:

Good Grief!

We lost to MTSU.

We lost to Austin Pee Pee.

We lost twice to Memphis. (One game by 18 points)

This is not acceptable in Knoxville.

UT should have hired Shaka Smart.

The Vols would be winning in the NCAA tourney instead of losing to Sunbelt teams in the NIT.

I hope we are only stuck with Conzo Martin and Derek Doolittle another year or so before Dave Hart fires them and brings in better coaches who can compete.

And please stop making excuses for these losers.

Go Big Orange!

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Really glad this season is over. Another game that should have been a run away game. Not very well coached and totally selfish play by McRae and Golden. We really need some guards. Hope Chievous is an all-american!! We gonna need him! I put the blame on Hall for this one.

bobe4544 writes:

in response to One_in_West_Knox:

With a stunned look on my face:

WAH HAHPPENED in the final 7:13??????????

Coaching. Bring on Smart for coach.

Bogytrain writes:

It looked like Cuonzo made them slow it down with 7 minutes left and milk the clock. They lost it right there....
I've never seen anything like that before. That was some bad coaching and poor playing.
They simply aren't very good in games that matter.

Ichabod writes:

From good season, to pedestrian in 3 games. They died after Vandy, and now Peay and MTSU hod the instate crown. Never would have believed it....AT HOME. In any case, KY pigskin in LEX, and now this in TBA....oh, how low can we go....?

bigdisbig writes:

McBee goes 0-7 three pointers and 0-4 from the 2 point field, threw the ball away twice.......WTF? Why did Cuonzo keep him in when he is so bad tonight?

Cuonzo needs to teach these guys how to use the pick and roll. Every pic and roll I watched, the guy who set the pic and rolled off was wide open but Golden drove to the basket only to get blocked or miss.

Where was the rebounding? How can you go 7 minutes without scoring?
Geeesh.....what a pathetic showing on ESPN.

bobe4544 writes:

in response to born2ride:

Good Grief!

We lost to MTSU.

We lost to Austin Pee Pee.

We lost twice to Memphis. (One game by 18 points)

This is not acceptable in Knoxville.

UT should have hired Shaka Smart.

The Vols would be winning in the NCAA tourney instead of losing to Sunbelt teams in the NIT.

I hope we are only stuck with Conzo Martin and Derek Doolittle another year or so before Dave Hart fires them and brings in better coaches who can compete.

And please stop making excuses for these losers.

Go Big Orange!

Bring on Shaka Smart. Hope he is around when we need him which is now.

HtownVol writes:

I have a MAJOR problem with the way this game was played.
Stokes was a man among boys in the paing, but hey... why go to what will win? Maymon even better, but hey, lets let McRae take bad shot after bad shot. Richardson needs to stop shooting.

The refs were as inconsistant as it gets but they did not lose the game.

I noticed that when UT made runs the players were all about defense, when they got lazy on defense they stopped scoring and gave up points.

We can only hope that one of the freshmen coming in can score because UT is in the worst need of scorers.

ProfessionalHandicapper writes:

Austin Peay and MTSU in the same season... unforgivable

blackoutcuffem1592 writes:

Wow. Epic choke. The ability to score the ball has always been a problem. If Stokes or Maymon aren't scoring, its tough for UT to score

philgreen5#410561 writes:

They did win 19 games, much more than anyone expected. When will we have a championship caliber team in any sport.... maybe the golf team!

One_in_West_Knox writes:

Maybe I shouldn't have such a stunned look. After all, the fifth-year senior once again could have played better, no made treys for the three-point threat junior (perhaps could have driven toward the basket more), missed easy layups and missed free throws. MTSU babbled, but in the first half, but then the Vols pretty much did in the final minutes. Mr. Martin, you've done a decent job your first year. Please, McBee, IMPROVE from now until November. Tatum, though you may have scored 1000 points and been on the team that's made it to the Elite Eight, couldn't you have at least exited with an NIT championship??

lomas98 writes:

Mtsu really wanted it more at the end and golden was just getting schooled. Too bad we couldn't get post presence in the final few minutes because they couldn't stop it. I never thought we would get out rebounded like that. Glad McRae carried us for some stretches near the end of the season but he really played poorly the last few games. Mcbee couldn't hit anything tonight. How many close baskets did we miss tonight? Glad tatum played better in the second half, but he was not ready in the first. Props to maymon for playing through pain, but he was gassed.

For all of you that will say the team are losers and Martin sucks or they are pathetic, please find jaronne maymon and say that to his face. I am not happy they lost, but the last part of the season was fun to watch and they darn near made the NCAA. Just because they lost this game doesn't mean anything for next season. Stokes and maymon will be a lot better next year and hopefully we won't have a hole to climb out of early in the season next year.

Now, for all you comparing winning the nit or losing in first round of NCAA, this is why you take losing in first round of NCAA any day. There is a possibility to lose in the first or second round on your home court in the nit and negativity about the program will start.

mountainbrook writes:

in response to ProfessionalHandicapper:

Austin Peay and MTSU in the same season... unforgivable

But the beat your Vandy candy team.

bobe4544 writes:

Someone said last night that Middle Tenn was nothing. Only a bump in the road to hanging the NIT (Not In Tournament) banner in TBA beside the women's NCAA banners. NOT gonna happen.

mountainbrook writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

At least all of your posts are consistently clueless.

One_in_West_Knox writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

To the point and good post!!

ProfessionalHandicapper writes:

in response to lomas98:

Mtsu really wanted it more at the end and golden was just getting schooled. Too bad we couldn't get post presence in the final few minutes because they couldn't stop it. I never thought we would get out rebounded like that. Glad McRae carried us for some stretches near the end of the season but he really played poorly the last few games. Mcbee couldn't hit anything tonight. How many close baskets did we miss tonight? Glad tatum played better in the second half, but he was not ready in the first. Props to maymon for playing through pain, but he was gassed.

For all of you that will say the team are losers and Martin sucks or they are pathetic, please find jaronne maymon and say that to his face. I am not happy they lost, but the last part of the season was fun to watch and they darn near made the NCAA. Just because they lost this game doesn't mean anything for next season. Stokes and maymon will be a lot better next year and hopefully we won't have a hole to climb out of early in the season next year.

Now, for all you comparing winning the nit or losing in first round of NCAA, this is why you take losing in first round of NCAA any day. There is a possibility to lose in the first or second round on your home court in the nit and negativity about the program will start.

I will gladly tell Maymon when the University of Tennessee full of years of tradition under such stars a Benard King, Grunfield, Johnson,Darden,Ellis and many other led by such coaches as Ray Mears finds away to lose to APSU and MTSU in the same year...THAT SUCKS!!!! I have no problem telling anyone that.

mountainbrook writes:

in response to born2ride:

Good Grief!

We lost to MTSU.

We lost to Austin Pee Pee.

We lost twice to Memphis. (One game by 18 points)

This is not acceptable in Knoxville.

UT should have hired Shaka Smart.

The Vols would be winning in the NCAA tourney instead of losing to Sunbelt teams in the NIT.

I hope we are only stuck with Conzo Martin and Derek Doolittle another year or so before Dave Hart fires them and brings in better coaches who can compete.

And please stop making excuses for these losers.

Go Big Orange!

You are quite delusional if you think UT would be winning the NCAA tourney.

And please stop making excuses for your stupid posts.

vollaw writes:

What was most disappointing was how we lost. We were out-hustled and out-toughed. Beat at the FT line (% wise) by a historically bad FT shooting team. We HAVE to find a true point guard if we are to compete next season.

clvolfan writes:

This team should absolutely be ashamed for the lazy performance tonight.I hope coach Martin can figure out why his team never was motivated,and why he was outcoached by the MTSU coach.

farmdog (Inactive) writes:

Points were shaved, plain and simple.

pms151 writes:

mid major coach..mid major results

AFTiger writes:

I'm very proud of both Austin Peay and Middle Tennessee.

AWESOME!!

VolunteerLifer writes:

This team doesn't care. A horrid performance by everyone but Maymon, including the coaching. What in the world were we doing starting the game with four guards? We don't have four guards who can or want to play. Hey, it appears we don't have ONE guard who can play. We gave the opponent a nice little cushion to start the game by stupid coaching and an indifferent team. If they play hard and lose to a better team, I'm still on board. But when they don't care, then I stop caring.

The building was full of UT fans even without the students on campus, and look how they treated those fans. They said to hell with the fans, we're going to just quit playing this season. Our players and coaches should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.

Its been a long time since I've been this embarrased to be a Tennessee fan. This team just lost a fan here. I'm going to ignore this program until I see signs that they care and that they are competent, even if it means not following them this summer and next season. Being a fan of this team is obviously a waste of my time.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Having tried to coll off.... here goes.

Mercifully this stuff has come to an ending.
When you cannot score a basket in the last, what was it...........9 minutes..........cannot make a free throw on your own court.......on and on.

Obviously, the better team won. IMO, 2 players shouldn't see the court.......McRae and Spani.

It's tough, but they lost to a far better team.

florida-volfan writes:

Kinda like our football team this past year HUH? Great finish. UT athletics gone to ****! Dont want to mention baseball the last few years.....where is that vaunted track team from the 80s and 90s? Swim team who knows? Only one worth a damn is lady vols basketball. thumbs up!

eb502us#225637 writes:

in response to One_in_West_Knox:

Maybe I shouldn't have such a stunned look. After all, the fifth-year senior once again could have played better, no made treys for the three-point threat junior (perhaps could have driven toward the basket more), missed easy layups and missed free throws. MTSU babbled, but in the first half, but then the Vols pretty much did in the final minutes. Mr. Martin, you've done a decent job your first year. Please, McBee, IMPROVE from now until November. Tatum, though you may have scored 1000 points and been on the team that's made it to the Elite Eight, couldn't you have at least exited with an NIT championship??

Which team are you following?

McBee though not a superstar (and never will be) did improve this year, especially on defense. Maymon and Golden were also much improved.

Tatum, our 5th year senior, has been a bust since his sophomore year, yet you are asking a guy who has REGRESSED throughout his career to take you to an NIT championship?

This team is what it is, a team without a man in the middle and a shooting guard that can create his own shot. Sure we exceeded expectations, but that means nothing when you lose at home to a state team other than Vandy or Memphis. Add in Austin Peay and you get my drift.

On a positive note, both Tatum and Woolridge are gone, leaving Jordan McRae as the only other piece of dead wood on this team. Sit him on the bench, find a big man in the middle, hope Richardson, Maymon, Golden, McBee and Stokes can improve and we could be slightly better next season.

budd#207344 writes:

Coach Martin and the Vols. Thanks for an inspired season. Picked to finish 11 in the league you finish 2. All the experts including the losers who post here thought this would be a losing season. Far from it. Saw about 10 games and you played hard and worked and got better. Thanks for the thrills and the hard work. Ignore the trailer trash on here. Its just closing time at the west knox mickey D's. After a day of saying "ya want fries with this?" They love to try and bring everyone down to their level

lomas98 writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

This team doesn't care. A horrid performance by everyone but Maymon, including the coaching. What in the world were we doing starting the game with four guards? We don't have four guards who can or want to play. Hey, it appears we don't have ONE guard who can play. We gave the opponent a nice little cushion to start the game by stupid coaching and an indifferent team. If they play hard and lose to a better team, I'm still on board. But when they don't care, then I stop caring.

The building was full of UT fans even without the students on campus, and look how they treated those fans. They said to hell with the fans, we're going to just quit playing this season. Our players and coaches should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.

Its been a long time since I've been this embarrased to be a Tennessee fan. This team just lost a fan here. I'm going to ignore this program until I see signs that they care and that they are competent, even if it means not following them this summer and next season. Being a fan of this team is obviously a waste of my time.

There are really dumb posts on here every day. This article alone is full of them and all of them are just not worth responding to. But this one could be the dumbest post I have seen on this site.

redskinvol1 writes:

I want wins.Two more years and its Bruce time.

One_in_West_Knox writes:

in response to orangesheep:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Should the team win national championships, I like to see pictures of the TEAMS hanging up in TBA and elsewhere, not just the MVPs, high scorers, best offensive and defensive players and such. Kentucky may have its legends, but, if I remember Billy D. implying on the Sports Animal not long ago, Kentucky wants to score and win, NO MATTER who scores or makes winning shots.

knoxchatter writes:

wow..great game...the only thing i would have missed this for would be watching a replay of the football team playing kentucky....wait wait, maybe i'm getting the two confused. Go LADY VOLS...give Tennessee at least a little presence in NCAA athletics!

AlpharettaVol writes:

I can't understand how Jordan McRae stays in the game. He gets the ball stolen, jacks up several impossible shots and then crashes into a crowd and luckily draws a foul. Not only does he seem lost on the court, he doesn't seem to have much in the way of BB smarts.

BigOrangeSmoker writes:

ROTFLMFAO now maybe a new coach

secondcreek writes:

So typical of UT-fire a winning coach who consistently gets them into the NCAA and replace him with an odd choice who at best scratches out an NIT appearance with an early elimination.

DeVoe->Houston, Green->Peterson, Pearl->"Quizno's" Martin

wildcatbasketball writes:

Nice year Vols if...your expectations are going to the NIT and getting bounced by MTSU at home in the NIT. Just saying.

Ttown writes:

in response to born2ride:

Good Grief!

We lost to MTSU.

We lost to Austin Pee Pee.

We lost twice to Memphis. (One game by 18 points)

This is not acceptable in Knoxville.

UT should have hired Shaka Smart.

The Vols would be winning in the NCAA tourney instead of losing to Sunbelt teams in the NIT.

I hope we are only stuck with Conzo Martin and Derek Doolittle another year or so before Dave Hart fires them and brings in better coaches who can compete.

And please stop making excuses for these losers.

Go Big Orange!

yes yes and yes to all the above this coach was just a hold for a year we better hope so

budd#207344 writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

This team doesn't care. A horrid performance by everyone but Maymon, including the coaching. What in the world were we doing starting the game with four guards? We don't have four guards who can or want to play. Hey, it appears we don't have ONE guard who can play. We gave the opponent a nice little cushion to start the game by stupid coaching and an indifferent team. If they play hard and lose to a better team, I'm still on board. But when they don't care, then I stop caring.

The building was full of UT fans even without the students on campus, and look how they treated those fans. They said to hell with the fans, we're going to just quit playing this season. Our players and coaches should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.

Its been a long time since I've been this embarrased to be a Tennessee fan. This team just lost a fan here. I'm going to ignore this program until I see signs that they care and that they are competent, even if it means not following them this summer and next season. Being a fan of this team is obviously a waste of my time.

Now you know how we real Tennessee fans feel about having you at the games. Stay away. Permanently

One_in_West_Knox writes:

in response to secondcreek:

So typical of UT-fire a winning coach who consistently gets them into the NCAA and replace him with an odd choice who at best scratches out an NIT appearance with an early elimination.

DeVoe->Houston, Green->Peterson, Pearl->"Quizno's" Martin

Did you, on purpose, forget->O'Neill??

knoxchatter writes:

in response to orangeslobberknocker:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Whaaaaaaat??? even the rowing team is gone??..say it ain't so! :o

budd#207344 writes:

in response to secondcreek:

So typical of UT-fire a winning coach who consistently gets them into the NCAA and replace him with an odd choice who at best scratches out an NIT appearance with an early elimination.

DeVoe->Houston, Green->Peterson, Pearl->"Quizno's" Martin

So we should have stayed with a coach who couldn't even win it all when he cheated? And too stupid to admit it and keep his job? Yeah right

rabblerowser writes:

in response to EightLetters:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

While cheating his way in the process?

decades_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to TIGERDAN:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Vols looked bad in blowing an 8-point lead. Shouldn't have happened. I thought Tennessee would have gone further in the NIT, but I thought Memphis and Vandy would have gone further in the NCAA's also.

tennisvol writes:

CM needs to go and recruit some players that can put the ball in the basket from 3pt range.

volhitman writes:

in response to EightLetters:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

WOW--Millions of dollars in charity? Why didn't you throw in he could heal people too.

eb502us#225637 writes:

in response to AlpharettaVol:

I can't understand how Jordan McRae stays in the game. He gets the ball stolen, jacks up several impossible shots and then crashes into a crowd and luckily draws a foul. Not only does he seem lost on the court, he doesn't seem to have much in the way of BB smarts.

Totally agree, been saying it all season. Just don't understand how CM doesn't see it.

It's one thing to have gifted athletic ability (see Tatum also) but it's another to have both a game and basketball IQ. McRae has neither. Without major improvement this offseason, he needs to sit or transfer to a lower division school where he truely belongs.

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